When it comes time to prepare your children for another year of schooling, you’ll probably find yourself on the hook for a multitude of expenditures, not all of them monetary. Certainly you’ll have to lay out some cash for new clothing and school supplies, but the cost to the planet is something to consider, as well. For every item of clothing you purchase, there are chemicals entering our water supply in order to grow fibers, which are then manufactured with – you guessed it – more chemicals (plus pollution and waste). Finally, these products are shipped all over the globe, creating massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions in the process. And the same goes for school supplies, many of which also denude forests. Ouch. But there are ways to cut your carbon footprint even as you outfit your kids for another school year. Here are a few to try.
- Organic clothing. There are now a surprising number of retailers selling clothing that is 100% chemical free. The fibers that will make the fabric are grown without the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides. Textiles are produced free of chemical processing, and waste, pollution, and consumption are reduced in every aspect of the manufacturing process. This not only means that your children will get wardrobes full of natural-fiber clothing that won’t harm their sensitive skin or lead to allergies; they’ll also have a cleaner future to look forward to because of it.
- Clothing trade. If you simply can’t afford to pay for new, organic clothing, at least do your part to reduce waste and minimize demand for manufacturing by hosting a clothing trade. Speak to other parents at your child’s school, or in your neighborhood, about organizing a trade event by which parents will bring like-new items that their kids have outgrown (or simply don’t like) to trade with other parents (for free!). This way, many children can benefit from new clothing while parents keep a little money for the college fund.
- Green supplies. Notebooks, folders, binders, pens, pencils, art supplies, and virtually everything your kids need for a successful school year can be obtained in an eco-friendly manner. Recycled paper products are placed alongside the regular fare (that’s how popular they’ve become) while harder-to-find items can be purchased online.
- Kindle books. Many classrooms provide the standard textbooks but call for parents to purchase supplementary reading for the course. By using a Kindle (or other eReader) instead of buying traditional books, you’ll help to cut back on paper consumption, and thus the deforestation that is consuming the plants of our planet.
- Walk or bike. When it comes to getting from here to there, most people rely on the family car or the school bus. But think about what could be saved by taking the time to walk your kids to and from school (or alternately, ride bikes both ways). Not only will you cut back on gas expenses, but also on the harmful emissions spreading into our atmosphere. And it never hurts to spend a little more time with your kids, especially engaging in physical activity.